Tiger Woods vs Rory McIlroy, golf's new rivalry

STEVE KEATING
Last updated 13:58 07/09/2012
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy
Getty Images

RELAXED MOOD: Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy share a laugh as they walk up the 18th fairway during the opening round of the Barclays Championship.

Relevant offers

Golf

Tiger Woods just '50/50' to play at the US Masters Lydia Ko's hold on world golf No 1 ranking loosens further New Zealand’s Lydia Ko finishes in share of sixth place at LPGA Tour's Founders Cup Henrik Stenson blames official for poor putting at Arnold Palmer Invitational Strokes of luck: Four holes-in-one in three weeks New Zealand golfer Danny Lee finishes in tie for 17th at Arnold Palmer Invitational World No 1 Rory McIlroy mildly satisfied with final tournament before US Masters Michael Hendry takes Manawatu Classic by three Kiwi golfer Lydia Ko four back going into final round of LPGA Tour’s Founders Cup South Africa's Ernie Els cleared of rules violation at Arnold Palmer Invitational

First there was Tiger Woods and Ernie (Els), then there was Tiger and Sergio (Garcia) and Tiger and Phil (Mickelson).

Now it is Tiger and Rory (McIlroy) and it shows every of sign of becoming one of golf's great all-time rivalries as the young Northern Irishman and veteran American went toe-to-toe at the BMW Championship today.

After carding birdies on their opening holes, it was clear the massive gallery was in for a special treat on a sweltering Thursday at Crooked Stick Golf Club as Woods and McIlroy showcased their considerable talents.

While the third stop of the FedExCup playoff series features an elite field of 70 golfers, the first round quickly turned into a two-man show with Woods and McIlroy whipping the crowd into a frenzy with a display of quality shot-making.

Some of Woods' rivalries over the years have been manufactured but his rivalry with McIlroy has been allowed to develop naturally, blossoming into a battle of the generations.

Now aged 36, Woods is staring at the downside of a brilliant career. At 23, McIlroy's star is on the rise, the richly gifted heir to Woods' throne.

"As Jack (Nicklaus) said numerous times, it was nice to be part of the cross-generational conversations we had with Gary (Player) and Arnold (Palmer) really," said Woods. "He was kind of on his way out but he was part of the (Tom) Watson and (Tom) Weiskopf and (Lee) Trevino and all those guys.

"It was nice to be a part of it, be in it for over 20 years.

"This is my 17th year out here. The guys I battled head-to-head are early 40s if not late 40s, like Vijay (Singh) is late 40s. This is the next generation of guys."

CHANGING OF THE GUARD

While Woods can see golf's future, he is not yet ready to acknowledge a changing of the guard is taking place and even a quick glance at the rankings backs him up.

McIlroy and Woods are the only two players to have won three PGA Tour events this season and the American remains confident that Nicklaus' career record of 18 majors is within his reach.

But the golfing world is also predicting greatness for the mop-topped Northern Irishman and if McIlroy can live up to those lofty expectations, their rivalry could yet develop into one for the ages.

McIlroy has always offered Woods respect, but he has never been in awe. While many have crumbled in Woods' presence, McIlroy has never shown any fear.

It was certainly a mutual admiration society on Thursday as Woods and McIlroy, playing together in a tournament for the second time in three weeks, heaped praise on each other.

The rivalry has developed to the point that it seems to bring out the best in both men, McIlroy carding an eight-under-par 64 to grab a share of the first-round lead while Woods was just one shot back after returning a 65.

"He's a nice kid, he really is," gushed Woods. "It's fun to play with him and he's just an amazing talent.

"You watch him swing the club and watch him putt and play, he doesn't have a lot of weaknesses.

"You can see that in the next decade or so as he really matures and understands some of the nuances of the game, he's only going to get better."

Ad Feedback

- Reuters

Special offers
Opinion poll

If she is able to, when do you expect Lydia Ko to win her first major?

Next year, she's so close

She's still working towards it, within three years

It may be longer than we think, within five years

The expectation might be too much, maybe never

Vote Result

Related story: (See story)

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content